State dinners at the White House are a big deal. President Obama dines with world leaders, discussing issues and ideas over the finest cuisine. But it wasn't British Prime Minister David Cameron or Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai eating with the president today.
Fifty-four young children from around the country were the guests of honor at the second Kids' State Dinner. They received the invite to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. thanks to winning recipes they submitted to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a campaign put on by first lady Michelle Obama. A panel of judges evaluated more than 1,300 recipes from the 50 states and four US territories to determine which kid-created dishes are the most healthy, delicious, and affordable.
"There's been some dynamite dishes. I mean, really," said White House chef Sam Kass, who is also the executive director of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! initiative. "There's a couple of things I would cook for the first family out there."
Inside the East Room the children were welcomed as honored guests.
"Coming to the White House, it's a big hassle, isn't it?" Mrs. Obama asked to much laughter when addressing the children and their parents. Encouraging young people to eat healthy and be active, she said that "it's about making sure that your body can be strong and healthy, and your mind can be ready to learn and explore and dream."
The first lady's husband made an unannounced stop by the dinner, congratulating the children for winning the challenge. "Keep it up. You guys are going to set a good example for everybody across the country," President Obama said.
The cooking website Epicurious.com partnered with Mrs. Obama to put on the event and organize the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. "[Mrs. Obama] as a mom understands as I do how important it is to get kids in the kitchen to understand what healthy eating is and how important it really is," said Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steele.
"You don't think that 9-, 10-year-olds are going to come up with this as an option for school food, but it's gratifying to see," D.C. Central Kitchen CEO Michael Curtin said.
You can download the official 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook here.
Wire material was used for this report.